Edmonton Expo 2013

Before I get into the main part of my post, I just want to let anyone who might read this know that I am currently in the process of moving over to my new website, www.shawnritter.com. Once I figure out how to effectively update and manage my blog there, I will be making my posts there instead.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to the Edmonton Expo, I specifically went to the expo because Bioware was going to be there. Bioware had two sessions/panels that they ran, “Behind the scenes on Dragon Age Inquisition” and “How to get a job with Bioware”. I was unable to make it into the first session, so I wound up just bugging the people who were at the Bioware booth for most of the day instead. I actually have a feeling that I learned a lot more because of it. I talked to a lot of people while I was there, but there were a few people who were extremely helpful, and who I really enjoyed talking to. Amelia Von Haden who is a lead programmer, Ash  Matheson who is a voice interaction programmer, and Michael Liaw who is a gameplay designer. Based upon my talks with people working at Bioware, and also on the panel about getting a job at Bioware, I learned a few things. I’m going to try and break down the main points.

Firstly Bioware is looking for people who are experienced, they want people who can add their personality and passion to their team and they want inspiring people.

Skills can be learned, personality/passion is key.

They want people who care about what they do.

They want people who they can trust, who can trust in the studio and in each other. They need to know that every member of the team is able to pull their own weight.

Bioware is looking for people who are able to show what they can do. They want to see what you have done. The speed at which you did it is relevant. They encourage you to follow your passion and interest. They also want to see how you got to your result, in essence they want you to show the math on your work. Often they will want to see your side projects, and what you did on your own initiative to master your craft.

For Art and Animation, the portfolio is king.

Bioware might not be the first company that you work for, deal with it. Build up more experience and a stronger portfolio and try again later. An intern position can be a great way to get experience

Make sure that you tailor your resume for the job you apply for, and make sure that you have and highlight your relevant skills.

Go for it, don’t let yourself or anyone else tell you not to try. Become your biggest fan and continue to push yourself to the limit.

And again portfolio is king. Experience and passion trump school degrees.  Do you want to do this? Do you have the passion to do this?

This advice is relevant to working anywhere in the games industry, Bioware is a top publisher who sometimes receives 500+ applications a day, they can be fairly selective with who they choose to hire. Their application process can often take four months or more, as they really want to make sure both parties will be able to have a solid and happy working relationship for a long time. The one other thing that I got out of my weekend is that they are more interested in specialists than generalists. They want someone who is a master of their selected craft. I’m really hoping that I can become a master of zbrush, though I must admit, I do not currently know if I will be focusing on character art, vehicles, or environments. My intention is to learn my platform thoroughly and then as I work through several different types of projects, figure out which one holds the most appeal and joy for me. I intend to have a collection of several zbrush models that are my best work for next years Expo. That being said its not about what you intend to do, it’s about what you have done. As such I think I’ve got some work to do and I’ll try to keep you posted as I go.

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